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{{short description|Capital of Mauritania}}{{good article}}

|subdivision_type1 = Capital district|subdivision_name1 = Nouakchott|leader_title = Mayor|leader_name = Maty Mint Hamady (2014 -)|population_as_of = 2013 census|population_total = 958399|area_total_km2 = 1000|population_density_km2 = auto|area_total_sq_mi = 40018N57region:MR|display=inline,title}}|elevation_m = 7|elevation_ft =}}Nouakchott ({{IPAc-en|n|w|ɑː|k|ˈ|ʃ|ɒ|t}}; ; Berber: Nwakcoṭ, originally derived from Berber Nawākšūṭ, "place of the winds")BOOK, Lorenz, Ralph D., Zimbelman, James R., Dune Worlds: How Windblown Sand Shapes Planetary Landscapes,weblink 2014, Springer Science & Business Media, Heidelberg, 978-3-540-89725-5, page 273. is the capital and largest city of Mauritania. It is one of the largest cities in the Sahel.WEB, The Sahara: Facts, Climate and Animals of the Desert,weblink Live Science, 21 November 2016, The city also serves as the administrative and economic center of Mauritania.Nouakchott was a mid size village of little importance until 1958, when it was chosen as the capital of the nascent nation of Mauritania. It was designed and built to accommodate 15,000 people, but drought and increasing desertification since the 1970s have displaced a vast number of Mauritanians who resettled in Nouakchott. This caused massive urban growth and overcrowding, with the city having an official population of just under a million as of 2013. The resettled population inhabited slum areas under poor conditions, but the living conditions of a portion of these inhabitants have since been improved.The city is the hub of the Mauritanian economy and is home to a deepwater port and Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport, one of the country's two international airports. It hosts the University of Nouakchott and several other more specialized institutes of higher learning.


{{see also|Timeline of Nouakchott}}Nouakchott was a tiny, fortified fishing village (ksar) in pre-colonial times and under French rule. As Mauritania prepared for independence, it lacked a capital city and the area of present-day Nouakchott was chosen by Moktar Ould Daddah and his advisors. Ould Daddah desired for the new capital to be a symbol of modernity and national unity which ruled out existing cities or towns in the interior. The village was selected as the capital city for its central location between Saint-Louis, Senegal, the city from which the colony of Mauritania was governed, and Nouadhibou. Its location also meant that it avoided the sensitive issue of whether the capital was built in an area dominated by the Arab-descended Moors or Black Africans.BOOK, Pazzanita, Anthony G., Historical Dictionary of Mauritania, 2008, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland, 978-0-8108-6265-4, {{rp|369}}Construction began in March 1958 to enlarge the village to house a population of 15,000 and the basics were completed by the time that the French granted independence on 28 November 1960. Britannica,Nouakchott Nouakchott,, USA, accessed on July 7, 2019 Nouakchott was planned with the expectation that commerce and other economic activities would not take place in the city. Nouakchott's central business district was planned with broad streets and a grid-like structure; the new Cinquième Quartier (Fifth District) was located close to this area and became the location of a large open-air market and residential area within a few years. During the 1960s, the city obtained its own local government. By the 1970s, these new areas had grown so much that they replaced the old ksar in terms of importance, as they also hosted the governmental buildings and state enterprises.{{rp|369}}The city was attacked twice in 1976 by the Polisario Front during the Western Sahara conflict, but little damage was caused by the guerrillas. The city has had massive and unconstrained growth, driven by the North African drought, since the beginning of the 1970s; hundreds of thousands moved there in search of a better life. The official censuses showed 134,000 residents in 1977 and 393,325 in 1988, although both figures were probably smaller than reality.{{rp|370}} The population is now estimated to consist of at least one third of the country's population of 3.2 millionWEB, Nouakchott Travel Guide,weblink, 19 November 2016, and the 2013 census showed a population of 958,399.WEB, Mauritania: Regions, Cities & Urban Localites - Population Statistics in Maps and Charts,weblink, 19 November 2016,


File:Nouakchott SPOT 1105.jpg|thumb|right|Nouakchott seen from the Spot SatelliteSpot SatelliteLocated on the Atlantic coast of the Sahara Desert, it lies on the west coast of Africa. With the exception of Friendship Port and a small fishing port, the coastal strip is mostly left empty and allowed to flood. The coastline includes shifting sandbanks and sandy beaches. There are areas of quicksand close to the harbour.WEB, Harbor in Nouakchott Marks China-Mauritania Friendship,weblink, 19 November 2016, 28 July 2009,weblink" title="">weblink 4 March 2016, dead, dmy-all, Nouakchott is largely flat and only a few meters above sea level. It is threatened by the sand dunes advancing from its eastern side which pose a daily problem.WEB, Nouakchott, Mauritania : Image of the Day,weblink, 19 November 2016, en, 9 January 2001, There have been efforts to save particular areas, including work by Jean Meunier.BOOK, Welland, Michael, Sand: The Never-ending Story, 2009, University of California Press, Berkeley, 9780520254374, 1.,weblink {{rp|168}} Owing to the rapid build-up, the city is quite spread out, with few tall buildings. Most buildings are one-story.{{source needed|date=June 2019}}Nouakchott is built around a large tree-lined street, Avenue Gamal Abdel Nasser, which runs northeast through the city centre from the airport. It divides the city into two, with the residential areas in the north and the medina quarter, along with the kebbe, a shanty town formed due to the displacement of people from other areas by the desert.BOOK, de Valicourt, Benedict, Mauritanie, 2000, Editions Marcus, Paris,weblink 9782713101533, {{rp|50–57}} Other major streets are named (in French) for notable Mauritanian or international figures of the 1960s: Avenue Abdel Nasser, Avenue Charles de Gaulle, Avenue Kennedy, and Avenue Lumumba, for example.The kebbe consists of cement buildings that are built overnight and made to look permanent to avoid destruction by the authorities. In 1999, it was estimated that more than half of the city's inhabitants lived in tents and shacks, which were used for residential as well as business purposes. The city is broken into nine arrondissements, sub-divided into alphabetised Îlots. These are Teyarett, Ksar, Tevragh Zeïna, Toujournine, Sebkha, El Mina, Dar Naïm, Arafat and Riad. The Sebkha (Cinquième) Arrondissement is home to a large shopping area.BOOK, Hudgens, Jim, Trillo, Richard, Rough Guide to West Africa, 2003, Rough Guides, London, 1843531186, 4th,weblink {{rp|116−17}}


Nouakchott features a hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh) with hot temperatures throughout the year, but cold winter night temperatures. Nouakchott possesses a relatively warm temperature range compared to other cities with this climate. While average high temperatures are relatively constant at around {{convert|33|C|abbr=on|0}}, average low temperatures can range from {{convert|25|C|abbr=on|0}} during the summer months to {{convert|13|C|abbr=on|0}} during the winter months. Minimum temperatures can be as low as {{convert|10|C|abbr=on|0}} during winter nights in Nouakchott. Average rainfall in the city is {{convert|95|mm|in|abbr=on}} a year.{{Weather box|location = Nouakchott (1981–2010, extremes 1934–2012)|metric first = Y|single line = Y|Jan record high C = 39.9|Feb record high C = 41.7|Mar record high C = 44.0|Apr record high C = 47.5|May record high C = 47.0|Jun record high C = 47.2|Jul record high C = 47.5|Aug record high C = 45.1|Sep record high C = 45.5|Oct record high C = 44.5|Nov record high C = 42.3|Dec record high C = 39.6|year record high C = 47.5|Jan high C = 29.1|Feb high C = 30.8|Mar high C = 33.5|Apr high C = 34.8|May high C = 34.3|Jun high C = 34.7|Jul high C = 32.4|Aug high C = 33.0|Sep high C = 36.1|Oct high C = 36.7|Nov high C = 34.0|Dec high C = 31.0|year high C = 33.4|Jan mean C = 21.5|Feb mean C = 23.0|Mar mean C = 24.2|Apr mean C = 24.3|May mean C = 25.8|Jun mean C = 26.7|Jul mean C = 27.3|Aug mean C = 28.4|Sep mean C = 29.6|Oct mean C = 28.8|Nov mean C = 25.8|Dec mean C = 22.8|year mean C = 25.7|Jan low C = 14.5|Feb low C = 16.4|Mar low C = 18.2|Apr low C = 19.1|May low C = 20.7|Jun low C = 22.8|Jul low C = 24.3|Aug low C = 25.4|Sep low C = 25.8|Oct low C = 23.8|Nov low C = 19.7|Dec low C = 16.9|year low C = 20.6|Jan record low C = 3.9|Feb record low C = 7.0|Mar record low C = 5.0|Apr record low C = 10.0|May record low C = 13.0|Jun record low C = 15.7|Jul record low C = 15.0|Aug record low C = 16.1|Sep record low C = 17.0|Oct record low C = 13.0|Nov record low C = 9.3|Dec record low C = 5.0|year record low C = 3.9|precipitation colour = green|Jan precipitation mm = 0.7|Feb precipitation mm = 1.5|Mar precipitation mm = 0.2|Apr precipitation mm = 0.1|May precipitation mm = 0.3|Jun precipitation mm = 1.9|Jul precipitation mm = 6.3|Aug precipitation mm = 36.8|Sep precipitation mm = 36.3|Oct precipitation mm = 6.3|Nov precipitation mm = 2.0|Dec precipitation mm = 2.8|year precipitation mm = 95.2|unit precipitation days = 1.0 mm|Jan precipitation days = 0.2|Feb precipitation days = 0.3|Mar precipitation days = 0.0|Apr precipitation days = 0.0|May precipitation days = 0.0|Jun precipitation days = 0.3|Jul precipitation days = 0.8|Aug precipitation days = 2.6|Sep precipitation days = 3.0|Oct precipitation days = 0.7|Nov precipitation days = 0.2|Dec precipitation days = 0.3|year precipitation days = 8.3|Jan humidity = 36|Feb humidity = 39|Mar humidity = 43|Apr humidity = 49|May humidity = 54|Jun humidity = 60|Jul humidity = 70|Aug humidity = 72|Sep humidity = 69|Oct humidity = 55|Nov humidity = 44|Dec humidity = 35|year humidity = 52|Jan sun = 232.5|Feb sun = 220.4|Mar sun = 260.4|Apr sun = 270.0|May sun = 282.1|Jun sun = 240.0|Jul sun = 238.7|Aug sun = 254.2|Sep sun = 228.0|Oct sun = 260.4|Nov sun = 243.0|Dec sun = 217.0|year sun = |Jand sun = 7.5|Febd sun = 7.8|Mard sun = 8.4|Aprd sun = 9.0|Mayd sun = 9.1|Jund sun = 8.0|Juld sun = 7.7|Augd sun = 8.2|Sepd sun = 7.6|Octd sun = 8.4|Novd sun = 8.1|Decd sun = 7.0|yeard sun = 8.1|source 1 = Deutscher WetterdienstWEB,weblink Klimatafel von Nouakchott / Mauretanien, Baseline climate means (1961–1990) from stations all over the world, Deutscher Wetterdienst, German, 18 December 2018, }}


(File:15-Nouakchott-eH-R0058185.jpg|thumb|A partial view of the city)Nouakchott is divided into three regions (wilayat), each of which contains three departments (moughataa): The town was initially divided into four departments in 1973. In 1986 the current nine departments were created.WEB,weblink Actualité du dimanche 01juillet 2001,, 2009-07-08, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 28 September 2007, Formerly a district, in 1990 Nouakchott became a region of Mauritania.WEB, Law, Gwillim,weblink Regions of Mauritania, Statoids, 14 June 2015, On 25 November 2014, it was split into the three current regionsWEB,weblink Mauritanie: la capitale Nouakchott, sera découpée en trois wilayas, 26 November 2014, Alakhbar, 14 June 2015, and its governor Mahi Ould Hamed became the first governor of Nouakchott-Nord.WEB,weblink Les trois wali de Nouakchott connus, 12 December 2014, le calame, 14 June 2015,


{{Historical populations|1961|5,807|1965|15,000|1970|25,000|1977|134,704|1981|232,000|1988|393,325|2000|558,195|2013|958,399|2018|1,155,500}}For comparison, its population was only 20,000 in 1969. Part of the difficulty in estimating the city's population is that part of it is nomadic, setting up tents in suitable locations, then packing up when the need strikes. Some estimates put the 2008 population at over 2 million, estimated to be close to one-third of the country's population. The 2013 census gave the city's population as 958,399.

Slum resettlement

In 2009, the government of Mauritania announced that it would begin a process of clearing the slum on the outskirts of Nouakchott. 24,000 families would eventually be relocated to planned housing in the city. The process was scheduled to begin with the relocation of 9,000 families from the outskirts into the poor Arafat department neighbourhood of "Kosovo", popularly named for its high crime rate and poor services. The government planned to begin moving families in June 2009 despite concerns from aid agencies that needed infrastructure could not be put in place in the receiving neighbourhood.WEB, City versus slum,weblink IRIN, 19 November 2016, 31 March 2009, In 2013, it was reported that "slums have been replaced by social dwellings for the poorest",WEB, The City of Nouakchott – Perspectives and Challenges,weblink EcoMENA, 3 February 2015, with the World Bank reporting that the plan met with substantial success, resulting in access to improved services for 181,035 people in the slum areas.WEB, Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Urban Development Program,weblink World Bank, 3 February 2015,


(File:Charette port.jpg|thumb|Scene at the beach in Nouakchott)Nouakchott is the center of the Mauritanian economy, with three-quarters of service sector enterprises located in the city as of 1999 with 90% of the city's economic activity consisting of informal transactions. Some inhabitants have multiple addresses and maintain strong ties with their regions of origin, at times returning for labor.WEB, Lawrence, William, Symptom of Crisis or Engine of Development? The Mauritanian Informal Economic Sector,weblink The Fletcher Journal of Development Studies, 3 February 2015,


Nouakchott has a Chinese-built deepwater port that opened in 1986. It was designed for a capacity of {{DWT|500000|LT|disp=long}} of cargo a year, but has been handling 1,500,000 tons (DWT) by 2009. China agreed in 2009 to invest US$282 million in the port, aiming to extend the main quay by over {{convert|900|m|ft|abbr=on}}.WEB, China to Invest US$282 Million in Nouakchott Port Expansion - Dredging News Online,weblink, 19 November 2016, As of 2011, the World Bank was investigating funding a new shipping container facility at the port.WEB, Mauritania - Port of Nouakchott Development Project,weblink The World Bank: Documents and Reports, 19 November 2016, Air service is provided by Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport, which replaced the previous Nouakchott International Airport in June 2016.NEWS,weblink Mauritanie : inauguration du nouvel aéroport international de Nouakchott, Jeune Afrique, 27 June 2016, 4 July 2016, French, Inauguration of new Nouakchott international airport, The Cairo–Dakar Highway leg from Nouakchott to Nouadhibou was paved in 2004, although the Nouakchott-Rosso leg was paved before independence.WEB, Steck, Benjamin, West Africa Facing the Lack of Traffic Lanes: A Study Case: The Nouakchott-Nouadhibou Road (Mauritania),weblink 19 November 2016, A {{convert|1100|km|mi|adj=on}} road (Route d'Espoir (Road of Hope)) connects the city with Néma via Boutilimit and Kiffa.{{rp|235}} In the city, there is a public transport and commuter system, with vehicles serving major boulevards.


The city is home to the University of Nouakchott Al Aasriya, which is the only university in Mauritania and was opened in 1981. As of 1995, it had 70 professors and 2800 students. Other higher education facilities include the National School of Administration and the Higher Scientific Institute.BOOK, Pazzanita, Anthony G., Historical dictionary of Mauritania, 1996, Scarecrow, Lanham, Maryland, 0-8108-3095-7, 2., {{rp|105}}There are many primary and secondary schools, among the most prominent are the American International School of NouakchottWEB,weblink American International School of Nouakchott,, 18 November 2016, and the Lycée Français Théodore Monod.WEB,weblink Lycée Français Théodore Monod de Nouakchott, Mauritanie,, 18 November 2016,


Attractions in Nouakchott include the National Museum of Mauritania, the National Library and the National Archives.BOOK, Ham, Anthony, West Africa, 2006, Lonely Planet, Footscray, Vic., 1740597710, 6th,weblink The city hosts several markets including the Nouakchott Silver Market, and the beaches. One beach is devoted to fishing boats where fish can be bought fresh. Nouakchott is a principal selling place of native Saharan meteorites.WEB, Nouakchott, Mauritania – "The Place of the Winds",weblink What's the Capital of...?, 19 November 2016, 11 September 2016,

Places of worship

Among the places of worship, they are predominantly Muslim mosques. Britannica,Mauritania,, USA, accessed on July 7, 2019 There are also Christian churches and temples : Roman Catholic Diocese of Nouakchott (Catholic Church), Protestant churches, Evangelical Churches.


Nouakchott hosts nine of the thirteen teams of the Mauritanian Premier League. Mr. Porras is the president of the Mauritanian Basketball Association (MBA). He is extremely famous.WEB, Mauritanie Football - Classement D1,weblink, 20 November 2016, French,

Twin towns – Sister cities

Nouakchott is twinned with:
  • {{flagicon|ESP}} Madrid, Spain (1986)WEB, Twinnings and Agreements With Cities,weblink ¡Madrid!, 19 November 2016,
  • {{flagicon|PRC}} Lanzhou, ChinaWEB, List of Gansu's Sister Cities by 2012,weblink, 18 November 2016,
  • {{flagicon|JOR}} Amman, Jordan (1999)WEB, Amman’s Relations with Other Cities,weblink Municipality of Greater Annam, 19 November 2016, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2 January 2008,

See also




Further reading

  • Armelle Choplin et Riccardo Ciavolella, 2008. " Marges de la ville en marge du politique ? Logiques d’exclusion, de dépendance et d’autonomie à Nouakchott (Mauritanie) », Autrepart, n°45. {{Fr-icon}}
  • Choplin A., 2006. Fabriquer des villes-capitales entre monde arabe et Afrique noire: Nouakchott (Mauritanie) et Khartoum (Soudan), étude comparée. Université Paris 1, 535 p. {{Fr-icon}}
  • Choplin A., 2006. Le foncier urbain en Afrique: entre informel et rationnel, de Nouakchott, Mauritanie, Les annales de géographie, n°647, pp. 69–91. {{Fr-icon}}
  • Anne-Marie Frérot, Nouakchott, du puits nomade à la ville des pétroliers. Risques et représentations, Maghreb-Machrek, n°190, c. December 2006 – 2007. {{Fr-icon}}
  • Philippe Tanguy, « L'urbanisation irrégulière à Nouakchott: 1960-2000 », Insaniyat, n°22, October - December 2003, (vol. VII, 4). {{Fr-icon}}
  • Diagana I., 1993. Croissance urbaine et dynamique spatiale à Nouakchott, Thèse doct.: géographie: Lyon II, 314 p. {{Fr-icon}}
  • Pitte J.-R., 1977. Nouakchott, capitale de la Mauritanie. Paris : Univ. de Paris-Sorbonne, p. 200. {{Fr-icon}}
  • Mohamed Salem Ideidbi, Mauritanie : la Richesse d'une nation, Nouakchott, al-Manar, 2011.

External links

{{Commons category|Nouakchott}}{{wikivoyage|Nouakchott}} {{Regions of Mauritania}}{{List of African capitals}}{{Capitals of Arab countries}}{{Authority control}}

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